Is a Degree the Sole Proxy for Talent?

Delivering his sixth State of the Union, President Obama noted that “America thrived in the 20th century because we made high school free, sent a generation of GIs to college, and trained the best workforce in the world.”

To thrive in the 21st century, the POTUS proposed to make two years of community college free for responsible students. The announcement wasn’t news. The POTUS announced his vision a few weeks before the SOTU. Michelle Weise, senior research fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute, believes President Obama’s presupposition that employers will increasingly require degrees to fill job opportunities and as a result, college is the only path to the middle class, is flawed. In her recent WSJ article, Weise challenges the POTUS’s assumption. Using Facebook, Google, and AT&T as examples, Weise outlines how more and more companies are 1) pursuing nontraditional paths to credential employees; and 2) using credentials other than the college degree to quantify talent. Given this shift, Weise argues that the policy question of the 21st century shouldn’t be how to make it easier for all Americans to earn a college degree, but rather “how can the country shift the emphasis away from a degree as the sole proxy for talent?”

Written By: Emily Foote, CEO of ApprenNet

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